Scott Hassan, known by some as the third Google founder, is finally headed to his divorce trial after nearly seven years battling over the equitable distribution of Google stock, real estate, and other technology stock – estimated to be worth billions of dollars.
“I’m Feeling Lucky”
As the divorces of Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos show, technology billionaires are trying to divorce quietly, behind closed doors. For example, when Google co-founder, Sergey Brin divorced his ex-wife, he hired a private judge to hash out the details.
A quick Google search shows that Hassan and Huynh’s divorce is anything but quiet. Huynh accuses her husband of engaging in “divorce terrorism,” such as creating a negative website called AllisonHuynh.com.
The site contains documents posted of sexual allegations related to Huynh’s wrongful termination suit against her former employer. They claim that Huynh threatened to “kill [her former employer] and then herself” if he ever left her and “kept track of when [her former employer] was out with a new girlfriend,” according to the cross complaint filed by [her former employer] and his attorney in response to Huynh’s suit.
After being accused of creating it, Hassan admitted to launching the site, seeding it with links to articles written about his ex — and links to court documents from three embarrassing lawsuits that involve her.
When confronted, he purportedly admitted to The Post:
“I did, but I have taken it down. It came together in a moment of frustration, when I felt Allison and her attorney were telling one-sided stories to the press. I thought aggregating publicly available information without commenting or editorializing would help … It only ended up making our dispute more public and tense, which was never what I intended.”
According to sources, in 2018, their estate was valued at $1.8 billion and he wants to give her a minuscule fraction.
Florida Equitable Distribution
I have written about equitable distribution in Florida before. In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage, in addition to all other remedies available to a court to do equity between the parties, a court must set apart to each spouse that spouse’s non-marital assets and liabilities.
However, when distributing the marital assets between spouses, a family court must begin with the premise that the distribution should be equal, unless there is a justification for an unequal distribution based on all relevant factors.
In Florida, nonmarital assets include things such as assets acquired separately by either party by will or by devise, income from nonmarital assets, and assets excluded as marital in a valid written agreement.
Importantly for this hi-tech divorce, non-marital assets would include assets acquired and liabilities incurred by either party before the marriage, and assets acquired and liabilities incurred in exchange for such assets and liabilities.
“I’m Feeling Wonderful”
Mr. Hassan was a research assistant at Stanford’s computer science department when he met Larry Page, then a Ph.D. candidate. When Larry and Sergey Brin founded Google in 1998, Hassan bought 160,000 shares for $800. In 2004, the shares were worth more than $200 million. The shares, now in Google’s parent company, Alphabet, would be valued at more than $13 billion today.
In 2001 they married in Las Vegas and there was no prenuptial agreement, and they barely discussed finances. Ms. Huynh says she supported the family financially in the early years but her husband denies that.
In 2006, during the marriage, the husband formed a limited liability company called Greenheart Investments. Greenheart was valued at more than $1 billion in 2015.
Huynh wants Greenheart to be considered community property because Hassan repeatedly muddied the line between his separate assets and their community property. But Hassan argues that the company should be considered his separate property because it was started with his pre-marital assets.
Hassan acknowledged during court proceedings that he had set up Greenheart as his own company to keep certain assets ‘completely separate’ from Allison.” She insists it is community property — which partners must, typically, divide equally under California law.
Hassan maintains “that the disputed assets are properly characterized as my separate property — this does not necessarily mean that the community, or Allison, will not be compensated,” Hassan said. “I already agreed to provide her with a significant amount of money every month.”
But Huynh purportedly told The New York Post:
“His miserly position is ludicrous. I pray that a Big Tech billionaire will not get away with his attempt to cheat his children and me while he walks away with everything.”
The New York Times article is here.